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Today is the present… be the gift.

gozarks goes mobile February 22, 2016

This morning, immersed in the riverside quietude of Maumelle Park, sipping coffee (lightly laced with Irish Cream), pseudo-watching ‘the news’ on airwaves TV and puffing, occasionally, on a corncob pipe stuffed with “Tin Star Menthol Pipe Tobacco” (yes, I still enjoy the ‘rush’ of nicotine <smile>), I imagined myself to be on the road to Somewhere Else and imagined what I would be doing along the way.

With ‘along the way’ being ‘any place’ that I might like to relax for a week or so as I travel to Somewhere Else…

And with knowing that my travels will be more comfortable by me ‘earning my keep’ as I go…

Thus I thought about what I am good at and would most enjoy doing to accommodate such a mutually beneficial business transaction and decided to simply go mobile with my longstanding credentialed skill-set in graphic design, promotional copy-writing, special event production and strategic marketing… updating or designing new logos, brochures, custom newsletters, website content, display ads, etc. (as was my professional mainstay for decades up until 2011) as I move about from place to place.

So, over the next short while I’m going to put into practice the marketing strategy thus designed <smile>, the first step of which shall be to develop a promotional flier for ‘gozarks goes mobile’… and when I have it done, I’ll pass it along to RV campgrounds along my projected route to Somewhere… which, given I can get all my ducks in a row, will be to Alaska for the summer… wow… wouldn’t that be a hoot…!!!

PS: Here are a couple more pics from my Maumelle Campout… FYI: for more about this darling daughter, click here

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Shawna (aka: my youngest daughter), me and (in the background) “Louise” (’02 GWV 20′).

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Yes… it all tastes better when kissed by Mother Nature and partaken al fresco… 

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Workamper Rendezvous October 27, 2015

The Workamper* Rendezvous in Heber Springs, Arkansas, last week (10/20-22/15) was amazing… They – being head honcho Steve Anderson and his awesome crew of family and friends — fed, entertained and educated us with a smorgasbord of creative wisdom and delicious expertise…!!!

Education, education, education filled the halls and meeting rooms of the Heber Springs Community Center while the 2015 Workamper Rendezvous was in town.
Education, education, education filled the halls and meeting rooms of the Heber Springs Community Center while the 2015 Workamper Rendezvous was in town.

FYI: This event is NOT just for those who are (or would like to be) earning an income while living full-time on the road. Even though all the info is geared to assist those who choose to explore this dream, anyone who enjoys camping in any kind of RV could definitely learn a lot.

I, for example, learned much more than I already knew about the 30amp electric system in my RV. Excellent info that will save me tons of $$$ on needless repairs precluded by a few ounces of preventative wisdom.

I also learned the legal difference between a domicile and a residence… Do you know…??? <smile> Because if you don’t and you happen to fit a particular demographic profile, you could be wasting big money paying taxes that you are not legally obliged to pay…. thus proving that sometimes, ignorance is not bliss…!!!

And the social environment of the whole event was wonderfully convivial. Attendees were mostly in the 40s-to-70s age range; retired (or soon to be), or already ‘living the dream’ of freewheeling independence, earning their keep through various means as they wander scenic byways, tour national landmarks and mosey through life at a pace uniquely their own.

The convivial crowd of workampers and wannabes gathered at the Rendezvous.

The convivial crowd of workampers and wannabes gathered at the Rendezvous.

Which sorta-kinda describes almost perfectly the overview of ‘living life’ that I envision and am enacting for myself as my transition from full-time mom and head-of-household-working-professional ebbs away from the sacrificial duties of titles and tasks, flowing into the realm of ‘whatever I choose to do next’.

As anyone who has already made this passage knows, it could be likened to navigating the Straits of Magellan, tossed about by shifting gusty winds, feisty currents, the narrowness of the channel through towering rock cliffs and the deceptively beautiful wailing of emotional sirens.

Me and my darling brood (left to right): Adam, Patty, mom (aka: me), Shawna, Shalom, Josh.

Me and my darling brood (left to right): Adam, Patty, mom (aka: me), Shawna, Shalom, Josh.

My personal crossing from the ocean of family responsibility to the sea of doing for myself began just over 4 years ago when my youngest darling daughter turned 18. And in fact, that day of emancipation had been envisioned from the birth of my eldest child… at least from the standpoint that I as a mother had one very important job to do: to prepare my darlings for adulthood; to make sure they were as equipped and as ready as I could coach them to be to take on the joys, challenges and responsibilities incumbent of adult life… on their own.

And now, with all of my darlings living their own dreams (and happily thriving), I am in what long-ago colleague Alan Lakein would call ‘the end game’ of my transformational journey and I am ‘trying on for size’ the doing of things that I have for (lo, these many years) imagined I would be doing ‘after’ my kids were grown.

Thus as my Maiden Voyage was (to me) all about proving to myself that I and my rig were up to the challenges of solo RVing… attending this conference was (for me) all about finding out how easy (or difficult) it is to attend and participate in such events given my mode of transportation. And under this heading, I really learned a lot.

These full-timers live in style and tow their 'garage' (which houses their auto and an office) with them.

These full-timers live in style and tow their ‘garage’ (which houses their auto and an office) with them.

Mainly, that having a very mobile (20′) van-type RV does give me easy access to convenient parking at an event. However, with the RV being my only transportation -and- my home, it is neither easy nor convenient to get involved with ancillary activities that take place away from the main event.

For example, there was a solo RVers meet-and-greet held at a park pavilion one evening which I would have much liked to attend. Yet the fact that the gathering was (for me) too far from my campsite to walk, and that driving there meant I would have had to back-into my campsite when it was pitch-dark decided my fate.

On the other side of the coin, I loved the camping experience. In contrast to other sections of the park which were full nearly to capacity, the section I chose for my 3-night stay was empty, save for Louise and me <smile>. Thus things were blissfully quiet -and- I felt no compunction about turning up the volume on my radio when the spirit so moved me <grin>.

The dwelling inside the stately bus is truly glamorous... Thus the term coined to describe this lifestyle:

The dwelling inside the stately bus (pictured above) is truly glamorous… Thus the term coined to describe this lifestyle: “Glamping”.

This area of the Dam Site State Park campground was bustling with big rigs.

This area of the Dam Site State Park campground was bustling with big rigs.

Back to the downside, I learned very quickly that the duties of being a solo RVer take precedent over and may interfere with the desires of an event attendee. Thus a couple of times – mainly because I am ‘old’ and simply cannot cram as much action into an hour as I once did – I found myself doing necessary routine RVer chores instead of attending a conference presentation.

And it also became self-evident that in order for me to pursue my envisioned ‘home ranger’ lifestyle in a long-haul manner, that I will have to allot time not only for travel, routine maintenance, sleep, general housekeeping, provisioning, cooking & eating, etc. -and- time to ‘do stuff’ (like visiting places and enjoying events), but that I must also factor in ‘time to write’… because, of course, this is the gold nugget of my personal work-camper plan… to supplement my retirement income by peddling my wordcrafting charms… <grin>

The 'empty' area of the park that I had to myself for my 3-day stay.

The ’empty’ area of the park that I had to myself for my 3-day stay. And yes, that is the lake in the background… which gave me a great view from my bedroom/living-room window…!!!

So, that is my current story <smile>, except to note with great glee that my eldest son, Adam, has now officially moved to Austin, Texas, where he has (as of yesterday) commenced employment as Field Services Engineer with Crushing Tigers, Inc. Wow… not too shabby for a homeschooled boy with a post-grad degree from the hands-on school of hard knocks…

Yes… I am very (very, very, very) proud…

Until next time, (((hugs))) and happy travels… ~Christine

*The term “Workamper” is a registered tradename of Workamper News.

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Maiden Voyage: Camelot October 6, 2015

The second leg of my debut as a solo RVer had initially envisioned a visit to Lexington, Kentucky, but plans changed and on Monday, the morning of September 28th, Louise and I headed south.

As we did, I thought (just as I am thinking right now) that I feel somehow awkward – kookie-strange and weird – anthropomorphizing a mechanical vehicular means of transportation (ie: an ‘inanimate object’) as if it were human.

Growing up with a FoMoCo engineer as my dad, such tomfoolery was not warmly embraced… although neither were we a dull sort, but none of our several vehicles had names beyond manufacturer, make and model.

Thus my grandfather (my mom’s dad) drove a ’49 Ford Sedan and called it , simply. the Ford.

1949 Ford Sedan: My grandpa and grandma bought one of these new the year that I was born, and it was the first car I ever "drove," sitting on grandpa's lap, when I was 4 or 5...
1949 Ford Sedan: My grandpa and grandma bought one of these new the year that I was born, and it was the first car I ever “drove,” sitting on grandpa’s lap, when I was 4 or 5.  Photo courtesy AlfvanBeem – Own work. Licensed under CC0 via Commons

My dad’s auto of choice was a ’57 Thunderbird.

I remember riding in my dad's 1957 Thunderbird. Wow... would I love to have a ride in it now...!!! ~Image courtesy Auto Trader Classics

I remember riding in my dad’s 1957 T-Bird. Wow… would I love to have a ride in it now…!!! ~Image courtesy Auto Trader Classics

But neither of these automobiles ever had any people-flavored nicknames, and growing up with this (unspoken, inculcated, memetic) predisposition tends to amplify it as ‘the norm’ – which of course it is neither normal nor abnormal for one to give a pet-name to a car, toaster, poodle, pony or computer… <smile>, but simply a mannerism of expressing a dimension of one’s own personal countenance.

And in the ‘why & wherefore’ of all-things-considered, boiling it all down to one (spectacular <smile>) reason for doing the dance I’ve begun, it is to explore those dimensions of ‘me’ that I intuitively know to exist but that have, for the past half-century, played second-fiddle to doing certain — like being a mom and having a career — and that now there are some other things that I would like to do.

Thus in the hopes of inspiring this ‘new and improved’ state of creativity in myself, I am purposefully doing things that are NOT ‘normal’ for me… like dubbing my 2002 Great West Van as Louise -and- giving myself permission to totally ‘go with the flow’, change plans mid-stream and even tell someone off without feeling even a teeny niggle of second-guessing guilt…!!!

Because the circumstances that culminated as my revised route could have caused me anguish. For one thing, I put a lot of thoughtful energy into formulating any plans I make, and this trip certainly was no exception. And there were others who were half-counting on me to be in Lexington for a day or two. So when events went counter to what I’d envisioned, it was unsettling to have to re-make plans midstream… Especially when, from my perspective, there was no ‘good’ reason that the change had to happen and was simply the result of a professional colleague doing something quite mean-spirited.

And usually, when I encounter stuff like this I tend to just let it go.. brush the dust from my sandals and move on.  This time, however, as my friend Vicki (with whom I was backyard boondocking)  became aware of what had transpired being a forthright advocate of justice for all, she said to me: “So… did you call her on it…???”

Thus I shed my political-correctness and told the unpleasant woman to go bag it… and bottom line, it felt good <smile>, kinda like I started resonating in harmony with a new frequency <smile> as I re-thought travel plans for the balance of my first roadtrip.

Bidding Vicki a fond fare-thee-well mid-Monday-morning, the drive from St. Louis to Poplar Bluff seemed a reasonable distance (150 miles) to travel in one day and I wanted to get comfortably settled into a site before dark so I could just kick-back, relax and the enjoy comforts of my roving home.

As I got closer to Poplar Bluff I googled RV parks, looking for one with WIFI and full hook-ups, and a place called Camelot RV Campground was right on my path

And I must say, I believe that King Arthur himself would have appreciated the comfortable accommodations I found there. I mean, the woman at the front desk was friendly and attentive. Registration was quick, instructions on how to connect with campground WIFI were explicit, and directions to my site, #17, and how to exit in the morning were drawn-out for me on a map.

Settling in to a site takes a bit of doing. First, you park as level as possible. Then you go around the vehicle unlocking the lockers that have the stuff you need to hook-up. All of which, really, is pretty simple – once you know how. And it is not a steep learning curve <grin>.

But it does take some thinking and developing a process that works to make sure certain things get done, like plugging in to shore power, turning the propane on, connecting the tank-dump (sewage and gray water) line to the in-ground receptacle and opening the valves to let stuff flow.

Also, if the campground has cable TV, you hook-up your coaxial. And Camelot did indeed offer this free amenity, but I was coaxial-less <smile>… and even if I had thought to bring one along, probably wouldn’t have taken the time to figure out how it works… because there are a lot of various coaxial connector boxes and disconnected cables inside one of the aft cabinets which I know somehow relate to the TV installed overhead in the cab of the van, but at the moment I have nary a clue about what is supposed to connect where in order to get the TV to work…!!!

Which is not a big deal for me really, as I have no television (cable, satellite, public air waves) at home. Paid subscriptions just got too expensive for my pension-budget, and once the public airwaves went digital, my entertainment and news have all come through the Internet. Thus my keen interest to overnight at a campground with WIFI… (aka: I LOVE Netflix) and this proved to be my only disappointment.

Connectivity was intermittent and slow., making it impossible to watch even a 3-min Youtube, although I was able to get some email sent — but even that was touch and go. Had I planned on staying more than overnight at the park, I would have had to ask if this was the norm, or if something was amiss. But since I was ready for an early beddtime, it didn’t seem worth the effort.

What did seem worth the effort — and resulted in one of the most sublime moments of pure indulgence – was waking-up from an evening nap and cooking brown rice at midnight without thought or concern to whether my late-night movements were disruptive to my sleeping son or daughter who rise early to go to work…

Thus I listened to the radio, turned lights on and off, washed dishes and did whatever I wished in the privacy of my own little gypsy cabana… and abiding the principle that “my liberty to swing my arm freely ends where your nose begins” with respect for others camped nearby, I could just simply be myself….

Wow… What a hoot…!!!

7am breakfast of brown rice, scrambled egg and fruit juice kicked-off my departure routine. Then, after the kitchen was tidied and my bed made (all of which took maybe 10-min.) the 3-way refrig which had been running on shore power since I checked in, had to be switched off because I have not yet had the ‘coach battery recharge while driving’ issue redressed. Thus on this trip, while in transit I used a standard ice-chest when shore power was not available… which was most of the time.

Then the roof a/c and/or exhaust fan(s)  are shut down, turned off, curtains are un-snapped from front and side windows, decorative items (like my Mickey & Minnie Mouse Chinese Lantern that hangs above my aft table when I’m not tooling down the road)) and various electronics are stowed with items essential to navigating the day’s journey provisioned for easy access from the driver’s seat.

Outside, as electricity and sewer lines are disconnected, cleaned and stowed, lockers must be closed and locked, tire pressure and fluid levels checked, and a walk-around of the vehicle, making sure to bend over and look underneath and cast an eye to what’s going on up-top, confirms that everything looks the way it should.

Most time consuming of my exit protocol was flushing the black-water tank… which had (as I am told many RVs do) a bit of a nasty odor which we first noticed when the kids and I drove Louise home after purchase.

Son Adam substantially mitigated this problem en-route by pouring a bag of ice down the commode. And then, after we got home, daughter Shawna and I took Louise to a local park for a picnic, and while we were there we dumped the tanks… which I hoped would completely resolved the issue.

Alas, it did not. The annoying odor, though less intense, persisted. And so this time I was determined to give the tank a really thorough flush, pouring whole buckets of water into the toilet with the trap propped open, so that any residual sludge would gush through the system and out the drain. And for all of the rest of my journey home, the offensive odor ceased to exist…!!!!

And so you have the highlights of my first solo night in an RV park… 72 hours into my debut adventure with several more days yet to go. Thanks for the pleasure of your virtual ride-along company… and if you’d like to know more about what I do beyond roving in Louise, I am proud to share the happy news that I am again in print with The Municipal… in the October 2015 edition, find me on pages 24-26.

Until next time and the story of the third leg of my first adventure as a Home Ranger…… (((hugs))) and happy travels to all… ~Christine

 

Whew… June 28, 2010

The last 5 days have been enormous.

We arrived home about 2 hours ago, somewhere around 1:45pm, having set out from Shawnee (Shawna was delighted with the name), Oklahoma, around 8 this morning.

The drive the day before (aka: Sunday), leaving Magdalena around 7am, brought us 600 miles closer to home by the time we stopped. And that evening (which was only last night, but feels like a week ago), we dined at a marvelous Chinese buffet where Shawna had octopus for the very first time. (Note: She liked the tentacles but did not care so much for the head.)

Backtracking further, the day I wrote my previous post (June 24, aka: last Thursday), was the day we arrived in Magdalena, New Mexico, and for a scant 68-hours (aka: 3 nights and 2 full days), soaked up the ambiance and culture of this sacred (a term I do not use lightly) community which pokes its head up through hard-scrapple terrain like a cactus blossom in the arid mountain plain… all of which I’ll say more about, later.

Fastforwarding back to (almost) the present moment, by 2:30 this afternoon, sweet Shawna (who drove the entire trip, shy only about 200 of the roghly 4000 miles — incident free, I am thrilled to announce) had our chariot unpacked of luggage, technology, snack box, cooler and assorted trinkets gathered along the way, was showered, had donned fresh clothes, text-messaged at least 6 friends, posted 2 notes to Facebook, made plans for the night and was out the door to check in with her (previous) employer to see if a spot still existed for her to come back to work.

Also by 2:30, I had turned on both of my desktop computers and started downloading emails: 6oo+ to one account, and about 50 to the other. Also, I noted that the house was not cooling down from the humid 80-degrees the thermostat read when we turned the a/c on… a circumstance which had not changed even an our later, just before I started this note, and so I called to get myself ‘on the list’ of our local heating & air folks who will (thankfully) be able to come check things out tomorrow.

Which is fitting, somehow, to come home to the routine nonsense of life. The maintenance, repairing, maintaining, and outfitting of a home, which — so long as one owns one — never ceases… except for spaces of time such as indulged for the last three weeks, which have in every dimension perceptible have been sheer bliss and pure enlightenment…

 

SeaSprites June 21, 2010

Tonight will likely be our last night in sunny/misty/foggy California, ending our quest for the last two days to camp in a place ‘by the beach’, optimally with some sun.  

Shawna sunbathing by the pool where we overnighted in Santa Barbara.

Shawna sunbathing by the pool where we overnighted in Santa Barbara.

  

Last night we camped in Santa Barbara. Very posh and pleasantly sunny, though unseasonably cool when we checked in, looking forward to a stroll on the beach just around the corner.  

Hunger called, however, so we set off to find dinner and ended up at an ornately bedecked and lavishly bedazzled India-cuisine restaurant in the heart of the tourist-trade district on (I think it was) Central St.  

The atmosphere was enchanting, lavish with tapestry ceiling and intricately carved woods. The presentation and service were charming and professional. Sadly for me, however, though I am certain the food was superbly prepared, I have never been a fan of curry and my hopes that perhaps my tastes had changed proved futile.  

View looking east from our 2nd floor room on Hermosa Beach.

View looking east from our 2nd floor room on Hermosa Beach.

  

Still, I reserved this news until Shawna — who was getting a first taste of the distinctive flavors — had finished her meal… or should I say stopped nibbling at it, sighed, and demurred that at least she liked the rice.  

View looking west from our 2nd floor room on Hermosa Beach.

View looking west from our 2nd floor room on Hermosa Beach.

 When I gave her the news that I’d never been a big fan of India food she, with raised eyebrow, enquired as to why I had not objected before we’d dined… and I told her that I wanted her to experience the tastes for herself, without my prejudicial influence. She smiled and said something like, yeah… but you coulda told me and I woulda believed you. To which I responded, sure… but now you know for yourself.  

What she did not get to know for herself, however, was that longed-for walk on the beach which was postponed after dinner last night, ostensibly until this morning. But with the fresh daylight, the sky was overcast and the breeze nearly chilly. So we headed on down the coast.Wending our way, making several wrong turns, keeping close to the seashore, we managed to find a motel that is right on Hermosa Beach. Not nearly so splendiferous in accoutrement, and nestled alongside a mixed residential and business district, the beach is literally right outside our door, the sun shines brightly and Shawna is enthralled!!!!

 

Bishop June 18, 2010

Filed under: EDITORIAL,EN ROUTE — gozarks @ 12:03 am
Tags: ,

The last 24 hours have vanished in a pleasant rush of kin. It is elating to feel so warmly welcomed, especially by folks one had not seen in ages. And still, a picture is worth millions of words:

What is better than family?

What is better than family?

 

Reno June 16, 2010

Night berfore last we stayed  somewhere-mid-northern-Nevada at a posh ‘casino’ motel. Last night we landed in Reno. Still, proximity does not change habit. At least not automatically. And never having been much of a gambler, I have yet to place a dime on the tables or in the slots.

Shawna collects some salt from the Nevada flats, home to the 'measured mile'.

Shawna collects some salt from the Nevada flats, home to the 'measured mile'.

Which should not be construed to mean that I am not a risk-taker. If that were true I wouldn’t be on this road trip!!! I mean, three glorious weeks with a teenager… no sane person could contemplate this without comprehending that they are putting sanity at risk!!

Still, this is the role of a parent: To do what can be done to assist and enable our children to grow and prosper by exposing them to and immersing them in the way life is and the way it ought to be.  And to do this well, we must come to grips with the fact that the ‘daily routine’ we maintain is the real master of this (subliminal/pervasive) communication.

Yet there are moments when our surroundings and the events taking place present opportunities to emphasize important bits of ‘reality’ in context of our cultivated perception… which is, realistically, critical to each of us in developing an innate sense of well-being and cognitive health.

This morning, for example, as Shawna and I took our time packing, getting ready for my business meeting this afternoon, we had a chat about double-standards prompted by her questions about the California man who was pursuing Bin Ladin.

Not completely comprehending the details of a report on the TV news about his arrest in Pakistan, I gave her a factual account: That a U.S. Citizen had taken it upon himself to hunt-down Osama bin Ladin. That he had done this because he was pissed that Osama was still at large and since there was a bounty posted on Osama’s head — making him a ‘legal target’ for any self-declared bounty-hunter — the man had set out to bring Osama to justice, but was arrested for taking pursuit.

What?!? Was her answer. How could they do this? Why did they arrest him? She wanted to know.

And thus ensued our chit-chat about double-standards. How ‘we’ (as society) get desensitized to our own moral infractions: Saying one thing (ie: putting a bounty on a man’s head — which itself is to my way of thinking a questionable and immoral practice) and then doing the opposite (ie: punishing a person for taking seriously and acting upon our public encouragement to do something we have said should be done).

As if to make my point, the next news item was a video of a police officer punching a woman in the face for j-walking, which elicited an astounded ‘OH MY GOD’ from my darling child. Capitalizing on this illuminating moment, I gently chided: See… that’s exactly what I’m talking about. And that is why I am so brutally intollerant of ‘little’ inconsistencies in personal moral-codes and standards. Our society has come to worship  violence. We tollerate and even celebrate it as a supposed means of ‘doing good’.

However, this is not normal. It is a learned/inculcated behavior resulting from the incremental desensitizing of our innate sense of ‘good conduct’. It happens a little, and a little, and a little at a time, this inculcated immoral ideology until — socio-cultrually speaking — we end up in a space of time where law enforcement officers commit agregious criminal behaviors which are voraciously defended by officials as ‘honorable’ and old men are sentenced to five years in Federal prison for growing plants. ~~~